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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Brake update

I forgot to say, but Linda's wheelchair brake eventually came in. The design is clearly more durable than the brakes that came on her chair originally. It's also shorter and less inclined to get in the way so I preemptively replaced the brake on the other side too before it could break.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ellie: "Dad, where were you born?"

Dad: "Iowa."


Ellie: "Do you speak 'Iowa'?"

Dad, smiling: "No, they speak English in Iowa too."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

February 7th

It's February 7th again, which makes it 4 years since Linda's stroke. People often ask me how she's doing. Not everyone can make it out to the house to visit, so here's a summary.

When Linda had her stroke, she couldn't talk, eat, or even move for over a week. Linda uses a walker regularly, but she can walk. It takes her probably 5 minutes to walk from one side of the house to the other. It would probably take me about 30 seconds, although I haven't timed it.

She uses her wheelchair for cooking and when she does things that require "holding" and moving at the same time. She also uses it when she is tired.

She can talk. She doesn't really speak clearly enough to talk to most folks on the phone. She'd be a telemarketer's nightmare, so she generally doesn't answer the phone. She has her own cell phone with her own number and it is with her so she can call in case she falls or gets hurt. And she knows that anyone calling her number can expect to reach her; they know what they're getting.

As for regular activities. Linda doesn't vacuum as you might imagine. I suppose she could probably do a passable job vacuuming with her wheelchair. She also doesn't clean or generally handle things that are up high. She does cook or herself, and often for the family. She also manages to do most all of the laundry. She has strategies for some things, like a rope attached to the clothes basket so she can drag it behind her. And it takes her longer than a regular person. I estimate most tasks take 4-8 times as long for her to do. A half hour of folding clothes becomes 2 hours.

She can type. She used to be a very fast touch-typist. She's a lot slower now, and makes an annoying number of mistakes (annoying for her I'm sure). She does send and receive a lot of email anyway. She writes her own stories and she reads things written by others on the internet.

We usually go to the gym once a week to lift weights. We used to walk some for that, but we take the wheelchair now so she can work out harder on the machines. We also have to get her blood tested once a month to make sure that her anti-clotting medication levels don't get dangerously high or low.

Our favorite restaurants are McDonald's (almost always carry out, but they have a reasonably accessible bathroom) and Sonic (you don't even have to get out of the car). We don't eat out very often, but we do order delivery some and I carry out on my way home from work even more often. Eating out isn't that fun in general for Linda, not like it is for most of us. As a rule there is a lot of background noise at restaurants and it is hard for Linda to join in conversation. Sitting around and feeling excluded is kind of boring. You can imagine that parties have something of the same characteristics.

Linda refuses to shop at J.C.Penny because the changing rooms have no bar. For a place that caters to old people, they are shockingly out of touch. She will grudgingly go to Walmart, although the bathroom there is tough with a hard right turn just inside the door (hard to navigate with her wheelchair). I often shop for her and just take back things that don't fit or she doesn't like. Luckily I'm not intimidated by the bra section! The internet is another handy help here, since she can buy things and have them delivered to the door.

But compared to the beginning, things are amazing. That Linda can do anything at all is really something that couldn't have been predicted at the start.